What is Laser Dentistry?
Laser dentistry utilizes some of the most advanced technology available in dentistry. A dental laser produces a powerful beam of laser light that is highly controllable, and which can be used instead of a dental probe or dental drill. There are all sorts of different ways we can use laser dentistry here in McLoughlin Dental Care as laser dentistry can treat both soft and hard tissues, meaning your gum tissues, your teeth and the bone around your teeth. For example, dental lasers can be used to pinpoint the earliest signs of tooth decay. They are extremely useful for treating gum disease because of the precise nature and sterilizing action of the laser beam. If you suffer from painful canker sores or mouth ulcers, a dental laser can be useful in treating the very earliest symptoms when that first tingling sensation appears.
What Are the Advantages of Using Laser Dentistry?
Using a dental laser can be a far more comfortable experience for our patients. Laser dentistry is exceptionally gentle and precise, and it is minimally invasive. When a dental laser is used to treat diseased tissues, it’s possible to precisely remove tissues too damaged to heal, leaving healthy tissues fully intact. As the laser removes these tissues, it automatically cauterizes any small blood vessels, sealing them through a process called thermocoagulation, so there is less need for stitches and bleeding is minimal. Afterward, healing is quicker and more comfortable because the procedure creates less swelling. Also, the very nature of laser dentistry helps to sterilize the areas being treated, so there’s less chance of infection during the healing process. Often there is no need for a local anesthetic, and there is far less discomfort after treatment. Because laser dentistry tends to be quicker than conventional dental techniques, appointment times may be shorter.
One of the most advantageous ways is to use laser dentistry is in treating gum disease.
Using Laser Dentistry to Treat Gum Disease
Gum disease or periodontal disease is a bacterial infection affecting the gums, and which without treatment can gradually destroy gum tissue, the ligaments that hold your teeth in their sockets, and even the bone around your teeth. One problem with gum disease is that it causes gum recession, creating what are called periodontal pockets or quite deep gaps in between your teeth and gums. These pockets can be very tricky to clean and are the ideal environment for disease-causing bacteria to thrive. Laser dentistry is perfect for treating gum disease because the laser can reach deep into the periodontal pockets, removing tissue too severely diseased or damaged to heal while sterilizing the area being treated. It is far more effective at removing bacteria than using mechanical treatments alone. Afterward, the gums are more able to heal because of the reduction in bacterial infection, so gradually they begin to fit more snugly around the teeth, reducing the depth of the periodontal pockets. This type of laser dentistry may be a stand-alone procedure or could form part of an ongoing treatment plan.
Dr. Lance Ogata from Lance Ogata DDS, Smile Hawaii adds, "Before laser-assisted periodontal therapy, repairing the severe decay and bacteria buildup caused by advanced gum disease required making incisions in the gum tissue to access the upper tooth portions to clean them thoroughly. While this approach was effective in reducing bacteria build-up, it required significant recovery time and could be uncomfortable. By contrast, laser dentistry for the treatment of gum disease is a non-surgical, minimally-invasive approach to reverse the effects of the periodontal disease for a healthy smile."
Periodontal disease can cause tremendous damage, even affecting general health, but we can also use laser dentistry to detect another serious disease, and that is oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is a serious disease which has a much better prognosis when detected early and laser dentistry can help. Because diseased tissue fluoresces slightly differently from healthy tissue, the light from a laser can show any small changes that aren’t yet visible to the naked eye. It’s a high-tech approach that is used in conjunction with a conventional oral cancer screening and which has the potential to save lives.
Lots of people have tooth decay, and early detection can save more of the tooth. This is yet another area where laser dentistry can be helpful.
Detecting the Early Signs of Tooth Decay
Often, the early signs of tooth decay are tricky to see, but a dental laser can detect any tiny pits or lesions in a tooth. This is a huge advantage because the sooner we can treat tooth decay, the less invasive the treatment, and of course, we can save more of your tooth. We use a small hand-held oral laser scanner that shines a special light on your teeth. Healthy teeth don’t fluoresce whereas teeth with signs of tooth decay will fluoresce slightly. Sometimes laser dentistry can detect a tiny defect that is even too small to treat, and we can monitor the defect or may recommend other treatments such as fluoride applications to try to reverse or halt the progression of tooth decay.
Laser dentistry is increasingly used to treat what called a gummy smile and can help to create a more attractive appearance.
Treating a Gummy Smile with Laser Dentistry
Someone who has what’s called a gummy smile will show too much gum tissue whenever they smile or talk. While this condition can be caused by an overactive muscle in the upper lip, it’s frequently due to an excess of gum covering the upper front teeth. Underneath, these teeth may be perfectly shaped and precisely the right length. By carefully removing excess gum and by shaping the gums, we can help to create a much more cosmetically pleasing smile. A dental laser is an ideal tool to remove excess gum tissue because it is so precise, allowing dentists to achieve a high degree of accuracy during treatment. Just like treatment for gum disease, laser dentistry for a gummy smile is a much more comfortable experience than using a dental scalpel to reshape these tissues. Also, healing is quicker, and side-effects such as swelling are reduced.
Is Laser Dentistry Safe?
Laser dentistry is an extremely safe procedure. All laser devices used here at McLoughlin Dental Care are well maintained and of the highest quality. Our dentist Dr. Donald Nimz is thoroughly trained in using this equipment, and he can explain its use to you more fully. In the future, we can expect to see dental lasers used more frequently during routine and more advanced dental care treatments. If you have already had laser dentistry, you’ll know first-hand how beneficial it can be, and of course, it gets rid of the sound of the dental drill.